An Invitation? After FOUR Months? To Ello With That!

Well-o-well: Ello is officially scraping the bottom of the barrel.

As the hardworking staff has plaintively noted, we were hoping for a smile from the Prom-Queen-Turned-Mean-Girl of social media last fall and got . . . a whole lot of nothing.

Until today, when this landed in our gmailbox.

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Of course if Ello wants us at this late date then we are a product, but why get technical about it.

Then again, according to Gopal Sathe at NDTV Gadgets, Ello will take whoever it can get.

Why the Real Facebook Killer Won’t Be a Social Network

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A few months ago, the whole world seem to have finally discovered Ello, about a year after the “private” social network first launched. Like everyone else, we too got in line for an invite, and said hello to Ello. Unfortunately, the hottest new social network of 2014 eventually turned out to be pretty dull.

The network has some different ideas like customisation and letting you to really personalise your space way more than Facebook (cover pictures are pretty much all you can do), but without losing the Ello identity on pages, which happened to MySpace. However, looking at Ello today, we’re struck by how little it has evolved.

Bottom (out) line: “Our network of friends came to Ello full of excitement, spent a few days learning the complex controls, and then retreated en masse to the safe and familiar blue embrace of Facebook.”

Vice is equally unimpressed.

[O]nce the Ello bouncer let you through the velvet rope, the newest, hottest nightclub in town turned out to be a cool space with decent music, but no liquor license or bathrooms. People joined the site, but once they were there they seemed to mostly talk about how they had joined up or wonder out loud what they were supposed to post there. It was also oddly difficult to find your friends.

Kiss. Of. Death.

There are dissenting views (see here), but it’s safe to say that Ello is not the bottle rocket many predicted at its launch.

And it’s even safer to say that we’re not signing up.

Not after waiting four months, anyway.

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NYT Gets Drop on Boston Globe Re: Ted K Institute Opening

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is about to open in the wake of a family feud that has gone largely unnoted in the news media lately, but was all the rage two years ago.

Regardless, yesterday’s New York Times beat the Boston dailies to the preview.

In the Mold of a Senator Who Bartered

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When it opens next month in Boston, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate will be aiming to restore respect for Congress at a time when rancor and partisanship have seriously damaged its reputation.

As if to lead by example, the Kennedy family seems to have patched up its own reported differences over the $79 million institution, which with a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber will seek to educate the public about the legislative process.

The senator’s two sons, who were said to be at odds with their father’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, over issues of cost and control, are by all appearances now supportive of the project and Mrs. Kennedy, who leads the institute’s board.

“Like all families, we’ve had our disagreements,” said Edward M. Kennedy Jr., a lawyer. “But Vicki’s done an incredible job. We are totally united in our goal to make sure that our father’s vision is realized.”

Good for you. (The rest is pretty much Kennedy agitprop.)

But it beats the hometown team’s coverage, which lately has been this:

 

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In other words, nothing about the upcoming opening.

We’ll keep you posted on the Globe’s inevitable catch-up coverage.

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WSJ Piece Has 20-20 Heinz Sight

The hardworking staff is a longtime fanboy of the great W.C. Heinz – a superb WWII war correspondent and perhaps the greatest American sportswriter of the 20th Century (not to mention the co-author of M*A*S*H).

(Our WGBH Heinz obit here.)

Now comes this Nathan Ward piece from the Weekend Wall Street Journal.

‘You Find the Best Stories in the Loser’s Dressing Room’

‘I can tell you’ve been at the gym,” Betty Heinz used to tell her sportswriter husband when he came home from a day with the New York fight crowd at Stillman’s Gym. He spoke differently after a few hours absorbing their stories and cadences for his BN-GV757_edpWar_P_20150206145332writing. Bill Heinz, who died in 2008, was a master of precise talk and low-key poignancy. He once said, “You find the best stories in the loser’s dressing room.”

This year marks the centenary of Heinz’s birth (Jan. 11), and the Library of America is marking the occasion by publishing “The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz, ” edited by Bill Littlefield. Read straight through, the collection shows how, as Gay Talese has noted elsewhere, “Bill Heinz set literary standards in the world of games.”

That would be Bill Littlefield of local and Only A Game fame.

Ward’s piece also mentions Heinz’s Death of a Racehorse (via Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter), which has “often been called one of the greatest sports columns ever published,” and features the classic Ernest Hemingway telegram about Heinz’s boxing novel, The Professional.

 

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Our favorite Bill Heinz quote, from an interview we were lucky enough to get with him in 2006.

[A]lthough I’m a great admirer of football and what it brings, I’m a great admirer of team sports, there’s always somebody else you can lay it off on and you can’t lay it off in a fight.

Amen.

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Jill Stein to Run for President on Groan Party Ticket

Dr. Jill Stein, the woman who took the green out of the Green Party in 2002, wants another shot at the presidency of the United States.

From her press release yesterday:

Dr. Jill Stein Announces Formation of Exploratory Committee For 2016 Presidential Bid Declaring “It’s Time For A New Society, A New Economy, A New Way Forward.”

At a Press Conference this morning, Dr. Jill Stein told the assembled media, guests, and a live TV audience tuning into C-Span that she is “testing the waters” and forming an exploratory committee to seek the Green Party nomination for President of the United States. More information about the exploratory committee can be found at Jill2016.com.

The declaration came just hours after Dr. Stein’s exclusive interview with ABC News made a splash on the Yahoo News homepage. (Watch the full ABC News video here.)

And here she is yesterday at the National Press Club.

 

 

Stein, a sort of five-and-dime Ralph Nader, has been around third-party politics for over a decade. Most memorably in Massachusetts, she was one of the gubernatorial candidates in the 2002 Big Love election, which featured Mitt Romney versus Stein, Democrat Shannon O’Brien, Libertarian Carla Howell, and Independent Barbara Johnson, whose most compelling recommendation for public office was her chain-smoking.

Stein could have been a real player in that race if she had garnered Clean Elections public funding (which Warren Tolman received in the Democratic primary). But as Seth Gitell noted in Jewish World Review at the time:

[T]he Green Party in Massachusetts bungled its application for Clean Elections funding by failing to garner the mandatory 6000 $5 to $100 contributions . . . (Stein attributes the Clean Elections-funding snafu to “technicalities which we thought were unjust.” Under the Clean Elections Law, candidates must not only take in contributions, but must also collect detail-intensive cards along with each donation. Stein claims local town halls arbitrarily rejected the paperwork or, in some cases, wrongly applied the same strict rules as those guiding nominating-petition signatures.)

Whatever. The results (via uselectionatlas.org):

 

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And that was Stein’s best effort. (In the 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial race, she got all of 1%.)

As for her 2012 presidential stroll, it’s best described by Slate’s David Weigel:

The Pathetic Failure of Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

For the first time since 1992—seriously, it had been that long!—Ralph Nader opted out of the presidential campaign. The anti-Obama left-wing vote would be sought by Jill Stein, a sometime Green Party candidate in Massachusetts, who got some free press attention for 1) having previously run against Mitt Romney and 2) getting arrested when protesting her noninclusion in debates. Democrats didn’t worry about her too much, but she polled as high as 2 percent in some surveys, and it wasn’t hard to find the occasional Salon or TruthOut jeremiad demanding that the left punish Obama for his drone warfare ways.

How’d Stein do? Terribly! There’s a hefty vote left to count in the West and in provisional ballots in states where Republicans played Parcheesi with polling places, but right now, Stein’s won fewer than 400,000 votes nationwide. That’s barely more than one-third as much as Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who left the GOP in a huff and ran an anti-war, pro-drug legalization Libertarian campaign.

Even worse: “In Massachusetts, Stein ran fourth, with fewer than 20,000 votes, even though every Democrat in the state realized he could cast a spoiler vote if he wanted to.”

So . . . memo to Dr. Jill Stein:

Please, put us out of your misery.

Please.

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Quote o’ the Day (George McGovern Hearts Louise Day Hicks Edition)

Well the hardworking staff was doing some homework today when we came across this exchange between Hunter S. Thompson and his editor in the 1973 Rolling Stone piece, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in ’72:

HST: [T]here was a whole series of things that hurt [McGovern] all across the board: that trip to the LBJ Ranch, the sucking up to Mayor Daley, the endorsement of Ed Hanrahan, state’s attorney in Chicago – who was indicted for the murder of Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader…

Ed: McGovern endorsed Hanrahan?

HST: Yeah. He also endorsed Louise Day Hicks in Boston.

Ed: Oh, no!

HST: The racist woman, who was running for Congress…

Ed: Did she win?

HST: No, I think she lost. And Hanrahan lost, despite the McGovern endorsement… all that hurt McGovern and also having his own so-called campaign director, Larry O’Brien, denounce him just before Labor Day. O’Brien denounced the whole McGovern campaign as a can of worms, a rolling ball of madness… incompetence, a bunch of ego freaks running around in circles with nobody in charge. That kind of thing couldn’t possibly have helped.

Thompson was right – Hicks did lose her 1972 bid for reelection to the House of Representatives.

Though she easily won the Democratic primary, she lost narrowly in a four–way general election to Joe Moakley, who ran this time on the Independent–Conservative ticket. Moakley edged Hicks out with 70,571 to 67,143 votes (43 percent to 41 percent of the total vote).

Of course when he endorsed Hicks, McGovern lost even more.

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Dead Blogging ‘Bedlam’s Saint Joan’ at Central Square Theater

Well the Missus and I trundled over to Cambridge yesterday to catch the Underground Railway Theater production of Bedlam’s Saint Joan and say, it was swell.

For starters, the cast was flat out fabulous.

 

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The actors who were not Joan shifted characters (23 in all) wonderfully – with a gesture, a posture, a vocal inflection. By contrast, Andrus Nichols was a stunningly consistent Joan and stunning throughout.

The multi-faceted Eric Tucker also directed the production, whose bare-bones, ingenious staging includes a moveable audience. From the theater’s website:

While we will be using the same seating configuration as you have experienced attending Arabian Nights, at each intermission, patrons in some these seats will move to different parts of the theater. The area where their seats were will become new playing spaces for the actors. The result: An immersive experience that offers different perspectives on the action.

The Missus and I were among the moved, in more ways than one.

The trailer:

 

 

You have one more week to see this remarkable production.

Do yourself a favor and do so.

(Tip o’ the pixel to George Bernard Shaw)

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The Ruins of Paul Rudolph’s Architecture

The hardworking staff has long admired the architectural work of Paul Rudolph, especially his Blue Cross Blue Shield building at 133 Federal Street in Boston. (Our 2008 WGBH commentary here.)

But not everyone does.

So we read with interest in the current New York Review of Books Martin Filler’s piece about Rudolph’s shattered legacy.

Among the most acclaimed mid-twentieth- century American architects, none experienced a more precipitous reversal of fortune than Paul Rudolph.

That reversal was caused mostly by Rudolph’s inflexibility and extreme eccentricity (see Yale’s Art & Architecture Building for further details), as Filler chronicled in his review of these two books:

The Architecture of Paul Rudolph
by Timothy M. Rohan
Yale University Press, 290 pp., $65.00

After You Left/They Took It Apart (Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes)
by Chris Mottalini
Columbia College Chicago Press, 71 pp., $50.00

We especially noted this Boston connection in Filler’s review:

The press lauded Rudolph’s increasingly bombastic institutional schemes, epitomized by his eerily cavernous, crushingly heavy Government Service Center in Boston of 1962–1971—a fortress-like complex with a swirling, multilevel interior that brings to mind the inner ear of some Brobdingnagian creature. The lack of critical analysis such overbearing works received at the time is doubtless attributable to the friendships Rudolph cultivated with editors and critics.

Doubtless.

Said fortress-like complex:

 

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Later in his piece, Filler laments one omission in Timothy Rohan’s otherwise “excellent new monograph.”

I was very sorry to find missing from The Architecture of Paul Rudolph what I consider to be his finest work, the Tuskegee University Chapel of 1960–1969 at the historically black college in Tuskegee, Alabama. Rohan says he omitted it for reasons of space, although I can think of no better evidence in support of higher regard for his subject.

Said chapel:

 

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As for the hardworking staff, we were very sorry to find missing from Martin Filler’s piece what we consider to be one of Rudolph’s most appealing works, 133 Federal Street.

 

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Regardless, Paul Rudolph left a legacy in concrete that we demolish to our own detriment. At least for now, it looks like 133 Federal will survive, as long as developer Steve Belkin keeps his word.

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For the Love of God, Put #MuseumSelfie on the Shelfie!

The hardflinching staff has noted on several occasions the recent proliferation of museumgoers whose sole purpose is to record their presence adjacent to works of art, rather than actually looking at them.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, now the art establishment is actually encouraging the me-myselfie-and-I set.

From yesterday’s Boston Globe:

 

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Hey, what does Malcolm care – he’s abdicating the whole selfiepalooza.

Money quote from Museum of Science VP Mark Check:

Our studies are showing us that people are coming for a social experience.

Huh. And all this time we thought they were going for a museum experience.

Silly – or should that be selfie? – us.

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Erin Andrews Is Not a ‘Journalist’ – She’s a Huckster

First: The hardworking staff is at great pains to say that this is no Kirk Minihane-esque hit on Fox Sports personality Erin Andrews. We have no idea how good she is at her job since we’ve never seen her doing it.

Second: All we know is that you can’t be a journalist and simultaneously appear in consumer-product advertising.

Exhibit Erin: This Wall Street Journal full-page ad.

 

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Notice this?

 

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Not to get technical about it, but the ad itself removes Ms. Andrews from the ranks of journalists. As does this tweet:

 

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And then there are all those TV spots for some outfit called TruBiotics.

Representative sample:

 

 

To recap: Erin Andrews is indeed a Television Personality. She is decidedly not a Journalist.

Next case.

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Boston ‘Dream’ Doc Thomas Graboys Gets Elegant Farewell

Tom Graboys was someone special.

From his sweet Boston Globe sendoff by Bryan Marquard:

Dr. Thomas Graboys, 70; cardiologist, writer

On hospital rounds Dr. Thomas Graboys listened carefully to a chorus of beating hearts, placing his stethoscope on the warm, damp backs of bed-bound patients. As each sat forward, he Thomas_Graboys_2AAreached behind to flip the pillow. Asked why he took time for this simple courtesy, “he would imitate what it felt like to the patient to lie back on a cool, dry pillow,” Dr. William Rigby, a brother-in-law, recalled in a eulogy.

“These small gestures just came naturally to him,” said Dr. Caren Solomon, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a former student of Dr. Graboys, who was 70 when he died in his Chestnut Hill home Jan. 5 of complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body disease.

A body he came to hate but never rejected.

Peter Zheutlin helped Dr. Graboys write his memoir, which was subtitled “A Physician’s Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia.” Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Dr. Abigail Zuger called it “a small wonder” and added that Dr. Graboys “does one of the best jobs on record of doggedly unpeeling the onion-skin layers of alternating ego and vulnerability that encase the doctor turned patient.”

Unsparing and unsentimental, Dr. Graboys examined his decline with candor that would give the most confessional memoirist pause, writing about “the tremors and involuntary jerks of the hands and arms; the drippy nose; the sweats; the old man’s stoop; the gaped, open mouth – I’m deeply embarrassed by it all.”

Tom Graboys was a member of the star-crossed Reggie Lewis Dream Team back in the ’90s, as Sam Roberts’ New York Times obit noted yesterday.

He skied and played tennis and joined fellow cardiologists as the drummer in a rock band called the Dysrhythmics. In Boston, he was famous as a member of the team that diagnosed the Celtics star Reggie Lewis’s heart defect before he died abruptly on a basketball court.

GRABOYS-obit-master315In short, “he was a medical version of one of Tom Wolfe’s masters of the universe,” one reviewer concluded after Dr. Graboys (pronounced GRAY-boys) published his autobiography.

But barely 60, after experiencing horrific nightmares, frequently flailing in bed, losing his memory, suffering tremors and finally collapsing on his wedding day, he acknowledged that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and the onset of dementia. He informed his patients that he had no choice but to close his practice.

And eventually his life.

From Marquard’s Globe obit:

Near the end, the physician who once sat comfortingly close to patients had to place his lips by the ears of visitors, conversing in a near-embrace. “When I saw him two weeks ago, he said, ‘When do you think I should end it all?’ It was very hard to understand him, his voice was barely a whisper and his eyes were filled with anguish and agony,” [Dr. Bernard] Lown said. “We all hold onto life, but he knew when to let go.”

I encountered Tom Graboys several times before he got sick and I was always impressed by his combination of professional accomplishment and personal modesty. It was a shame – and a triumph – that he met the end he did.

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